International Soloists Join University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Gershwins' "Porgy And Bess" and Other Favorites

Songs, choruses, and orchestral excerpts highlight Gershwins’ innovative synthesis of European orchestral techniques and American jazz, blues, and folk music idioms in this spring concert.

Chicago, IL, April 08, 2011 --( The University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra will present an all-Gershwin program, featuring An American in Paris and highlights from Porgy and Bess, on Saturday, April 23 at 8 PM in Mandel Hall. The Porgy and Bess selections will include some of the opera’s most well-known songs – “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin,” and “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” – sung by acclaimed soloists from the Court Theatre’s upcoming spring production of the opera and the 40-member University Motet Choir. The USO will also perform Gershwin’s charming “Lullaby” and the lively “An American in Paris” on the program. Barbara Schubert conducts. Donations of $10 general and $5 student requested at the door.

The esteemed soloists for this April 23 concert include soprano Alexis Rogers (Congo Square Theatre Company), bass-baritone Todd M. Kryger (Disney's The Lion King; Broadway’s Ragtime, Show Boat), soprano Harriet Nzinga Plumpp (Lyric Opera), and tenor Sean Blake (Goodman Theatre and Kennedy Center). All will be performing in Court Theatre’s ambitious adaptation of Gershwin’s masterpiece, which runs from May 12 through June 19, 2011. Be among the first to hear the stars from Court Theatre’s upcoming production, with the vibrant orchestral accompaniment of the 100-member University Symphony Orchestra. Cast bios to follow. For more information on Court Theatre’s adaptation of the opera, visit

Admission for Gershwin Gala will be collected at the door ($10 general/$5 students).

Quick Facts

Gershwin Gala
University Symphony Orchestra with Motet Choir
Barbara Schubert, music director & conductor

Featured soloists:
Alexis Rogers has appeared in the world premiere of Brian Tucker's St. James Infirmary with Congo Square Theatre Company, of which she is an ensemble member. Other credits include Black Nativity, Ragtime (Sarah), Don't Make Me Over (Dionne Warwick), and Seven Guitars (Ruby), to name a few. Alexis received her formal training at Howard University.

Todd M. Kryger Credits include: International: Disney’s The Lion King (Mufasa). Broadway: Showboat National Tours: Showboat, Ragtime (Booker T. Washington), and Disney’s The Lion King. Regional: Hot Mikado (PooH-BaH), Big River (Jim), The Civil War (Clayton Toler), Man of LaMancha (Tenorio/ u/s Padre), Smokey Joe’s Café (Adrian/Ken), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Pharaoh), The Gifts of the Magi (Him) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Caiaphas). T.V.: All My Children.

Sean Blake Broadway National Tour Credits: Showboat. Regional Theatre: Carousel, Raisin (Court Theatre), Man of La Mancha (Long Wharf Theatre), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story, The Rose Tattoo, and the David Mamet Festival (Goodman Theatre), Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince’s Bounce (Goodman Theatre and Kennedy Center), Purlie (Pasadena Playhouse and Goodman Theatre), Hot Mikado (Fulton Playhouse). Mr. Blake can be heard on the original cast recording of Bounce. He has also been nominated for 2 Jeff Awards and 2 Black Theatre Alliance Awards.

Harriet Nzinga Plumpp Chicago theatre credits include: The Absolute Best Friggin' Time... (Second City etc); Rush Limbaugh... (Second City etc); Porgy and Bess (Lyric Opera); Caroline, or Change (Court); Boys Are Coming Home (AMTP); Loving Repeating:A Musical of Getrude Stein (About Face/MCA/Best New Musical-Jeff Award/Original Cast Recording); Man of LaMancha (Court/Best Ensemble & Best Musical-Jeff Award); Bubbly Black Girl (Apple Tree); A Little Night Music, Rogers and Hart Revue (Ravinia); Regional Credit: Bounce (Goodman & J.F.Kennedy Center/Jeff Award/Original Cast Recording). Harriet's best project to date is her family PII & PIII.

Saturday, April 23, 2011
8:00 PM

Mandel Hall
on The University of Chicago campus
1131 E. 57th Street

Excerpts from “Porgy and Bess”
“An American in Paris”

Donations accepted at the door; $10 adults/$5 students.

Photographs and extended conductor biographies are available upon request.

Event Hotline: 773.702.8069

University of Chicago Department of Music
Rashida N. Black